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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ralph, Alice and the kids

After much consideration, I’ve settled on the names Ralph and Alice for the Red-tailed Hawk pair in Prospect Park. Today I visited their nest from noon until 1:30pm. Over that period I was fortunate to observe their very active offspring stretching surprisingly well developed wings. One of the adults remained at the nest the entire time I was present. Just prior to my departure the other adult arrived at the nest.

It seems as though the larger, pale headed adult is Ralph, the male. Usually the female is larger so perhaps there is a role reversal with this pair, but I doubt it. While he was at the nest Ralph retrieved the remains of an meal from within the deep stick structure. He gently presented it to Alice, who had barely moved for the 90 minutes I monitored the nest. I haven’t spent nearly as much time watching this nest as I had with Big Mama and Split-tail. Big Mama would take frequent breaks from the nest, even if it was just to perch in an adjacent tree. Alice seems to be more concerned with her offspring’s protection.

Prospect Park hawks 05/25

(Photo credit - Rob J)

The two young hawks spent a lot of time flapping their wings and waddling around the edge of the nest. At times they seemed to be eyeing the branches that extend above the nest.

While I was watching the nest a pair of young squirrels foraged nearby. They’ve been there each time I’ve visited the nest. Today I was eating peanuts and they began sniffing around behind my chair. Unlike squirrels at the edges of the park the forest squirrels are more wary of people. Just for laughs, I placed a peanut on my foot to see if they would take it. One kept circling the area, acting as if he was disinterested. Each time he’d get a little closer. Finally, he crept up to my foot and gently took the peanut. I suspect that the next time I come up to the hawk watching spot he’ll be waiting for me.

It appears that the Fordham University hawks in the Bronx are at the same stage of development at the Brooklyn offspring:

Subject: Chicks are Getting Stronger and More Active
Date: 5/24/06 10:31 PM

Rob and Chris,
I spent about an hour watching the nest today. Each day the chicks are getting bigger and stronger and more active.  One of them in particular has really taken to flapping its wings. You can also see the change in their feathers as they are losing the "fluffy down" and growing darker feathers.

Fordham hawks 05/24

(Photo credit - Rich Fleisher)

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Prospect Park, 5/25/2006
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Great Crested Flycatcher
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Common Grackle
Baltimore Oriole

Other common species seen (or heard):
Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, European Starling, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Sparrow

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